about-iwd

Happy International Women’s Day! I’m actually more fond of what they refer to it elsewhere: International Women’s Rights Day, but regardless of what it’s called, this is a wonderful day to celebrate the amazing women in our lives that have inspired and motivated us. I have a lot of personal female heroes. So many that it was really hard to narrow it down so I limited myself to women who are currently still on Earth making it a better place while they live and breathe.

Mae Jemison

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How could I not choose Mae Jemison? She (along with Sally Ride) has been such a guiding star in my love of and yearning for space travel. Mae Jemison was the first African American to ever travel to space PLUS she’s been on Star Trek so she has most definitely boldy gone where no man has gone before (it’s extra cool because she was first inspired to join NASA because of Nichelle Nichols’ character Uhura). Not only is she an intelligent scientists, she’s also a talented dancer, and has founded numerous companies and foundations to advance technology in every day human life. Learn more about Mae Jemison.

Michelle Obama

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As First Lady of the United States, Michelle Obama has been pretty much everywhere in the past eight years. Her dedication to improving the health of our nation’s children and passion for community gardens have been inspirational. She is one of the few First Ladies to ever directly address the issue of childhood obesity and her “Let’s Move” movement has been a huge success in schools. The Obamas even built the first garden at the White House since Eleanor Roosevelt AND had beehives installed on the South Lawn. Her motivation is astounding and I am constantly floored by all of the projects this woman has going. I am so sad that her time in the White House is coming to an end, but I know that no matter where she lives, she will continue her good work. Learn more about Michelle Obama.

Jane Goodall

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When I was in sixth grade, we had to do an oral book report. Most kids just stood up front and read from a piece of paper. But me? I was already a little ham (and a nerd) – I dressed up as Jane Goodall and did a report on Through A Window, complete with a stuffed Gorilla at my side and lots of crouched over antics impersonating Jane impersonating the gorillas. Jane Goodall isn’t just someone I admire now, she had a very large impact on me growing up. I even ended up going to college to become and outdoor educator like her. Jane Goodall’s books and teachings have opened our eyes to the animals around us and have been instrumental in how we perceive the natural world. Her work is deeply inspiring to me and her words continue to remind that there is still a sense of wonder to be found in our planet Earth. Learn more about Jane Goodall.

Commander Shepard

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Okay so she’s not a real person but I am not limiting this list to just reality. Commander Shepard means a lot to me. Her courage and her commitment to getting things done no matter how hard and long the battle is are an inspiration to me over and over again (no matter how many times I play these games). She’s a reminder to keep going when the going gets tough. She’s a leader and a friend and a hero to not just humanity – but to the whole galaxy. She is fearsome and snarky and always willing to get the job done. She’s there for her friends when they need her and she knows just what to say to piss the right people off. My Shepard might be just who I want her to be, but she’s who I want myself to be too and through her I can model my own action and remind myself of the path that I want to follow through life. She is a survivor and a reminder that I am too. Learn more about my love for Commander Shepard.

Nellie Jeninga

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Now this is a name that most people probably won’t know. Nellie Jeninga was born and raised in Heerlen, Holland in 1935. Growing up, she and her sister loved to perform and sing and eventually became quite good at it – they were even recorded and had a very promising future. But Nellie was headstrong and in love. In 1958, she threw away her fears and followed her heart to Toronto, Canada to be with the man she loved. She left behind her country, her home, her family and everything she knew for a new continent with people who didn’t speak her language. It wasn’t the last time her stubborn nature would lead her on adventure. In 1961, Nellie, her husband, and their two children moved to the United States, to Wisconsin, in the middle of a severe snowstorm. Settling down in Wisconsin didn’t stop her tenacious thirst for travel though and over the years, they would often pack up the kids and roadtrip around the country. She passed down that wanderlust and bravery to her oldest daughter (another of my personal heroines) who then passed it down to her daughter. Which would be me. Nellie Jeninga is my Oma and my favorite person in the world (that’s us in that picture). She has never let fear stop her from following her heart and she has been the steadfast rock in my life that I can always come home to. I am proud to say I have her bravery to travel and experience the unknown and I most definitely have her stubborness and headstrong nature. Because of this, I have to add her to my list of inspirational women because she has made my life better over and over again. I love her dearly.

Happy International Women’s Day!

These are only five of a very long list of women who are important to me. Others include Sally Ride, Madeleine L’Engle, Amelia Earhart, Annie Oakley, J.K. Rowling, Laverne Cox, Grace Murray Hopper, George Sand, Audrey Hepburn, Ada Lovelace, and so many many more. Thank you for paving the way and making it known that women can do anything they absolutely want! We are strong and empowered and we have a voice. You can find out more about Internation Women’s Day here.

Who are you celebrating today?

kickstarter_jdillon

On my bedroom wall is a an art print called Life in Motion, by an incredibly talented artist named Julie Dillon. I’ve been a fan of her work for years, so when I heard tell that she had created a kickstarter to fund the first book of her Imagined Realm series, I was ecstatic to pledge.

This campaign isn’t just great because it showcases Julie’s amazing artwork, it is also an incredible for another reason: “‘Imagined Realms’ gives me the opportunity to spend more time creating my own illustrations and projects, and also gives me the chance to create more illustrations that feature positive and diverse representations of women.” Every piece of artwork in this book is of a beautiful, empowered, diverse and unique woman, all set in a fantasy world all her own. The end product is breath-taking.

I am incredibly excited to share with you an interview with Julie Dillon herself. She has graciously taken the time to answer a few questions about her artwork and her already-funded Kickstarter campaign.

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Interview with Artist Julie Dillon

01. Your kickstarter only just launched and it’s already exceeded your goal. How do you feel with having such an amazing success already?

I feel relieved! This whole process has been really stressful, and it’s a big weight off my shoulders to know that I was able to get it funded. There’s still a ways to go to reach the stretch goals, and I have a lot of stuff to add on if the kickstarter gets to that level. Of course, while I want this to be as successful as possible, I’m also very aware of the fact that the higher it goes, the more work I’ll have to do to pack and ship everything. It’s just a big undertaking in general.

02. Tell us a little about what your process was for launching your kickstarter.

There was a lot more preparation work than I realized. At first I was only focused on making the art for the book, which was a big enough task in itself and took up several months. But as I got ready to launch, I realized I had to make all the site graphics, write up the press release, create a video (which I’d never done before), shop around for printers, price everything out, etc. I tried to stay on top of everything and not get too overwhelmed. If you just take it one small task at a time, it’s not so bad.

03. I adore that you’re focusing on empowered and diverse women. Is there a female person (fiction or non) that has inspired you in your work?

I don’t know that I can point to one individual person. I think rather I take inspiration from most women I meet, in some way or form. Their perseverance, how they handle adversity, their joy and love and how they express that in different ways.

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04. Your work is so wonderfully colorful! Do you have a favorite color palette you enjoy working with the most?

I noticed a while back that the purple and gold combo tends to show up a lot in my work. I’m partial to anything with a complimentary color scheme, since that tends to be a very eye-catching and dynamic. Sometimes I try to do something with a more subtle or desaturated palette, but I always end up making it more bright and colorful in the end.

05. What advice would you give another artist who is hoping to launch a kickstarter for their own work?

Get as much prepared beforehand as possible, and plan your promotion strategy long before you launch. You need to get the word out, or it’ll be a lot harder to get funded. Avoid promotional services that you have to pay for; I tried a few and so far they have done absolutely nothing, whereas working with my existing contacts and networks led to most of my traffic. Think about what kind of blogs and websites might be interested in your project, and send them your press release and ask if they’d be interested in featuring you or maybe even interviewing you. Many won’t respond, but some might, and every little bit helps. Be prepared emotionally if the kickstarter doesn’t go well, but also be prepared logistically if it ends up being really successful. Lots of people get overwhelmed in the order fulfillment stage because they didn’t plan properly. But, also bear in mind that at the time I’ve written this, I’m only about a week and a half into my first kickstarter, and I still have a lot of learning to do myself. 🙂

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Pledge to this Kickstarter!

You can pledge to Julie’s Imagined Realms: Book 1 Kickstarter by going to that page and donating at any pledge level. She has some great rewards and some even better stretch goals! So pledge, share, and celebrate in the awesome crowdfunding abilities of art lovers!

So it has recently come to my attention that there’s an anti-feminist Tumblr out there solely dedicated to pictures of women holding up signs about why they don’t need feminism. At first, this made me become SHE-HULK AND SHE-HULK SMASH THINGS. Thankfully it’s rare when I let things on the internet make me this angry. But after awhile, my anger subsided and instead it was replaced with sadness. Hurt. Heartbreak. I want to hug each of these lost women and hand them a copy of The Feminine Mystique and enlighten them. But I suppose, in the end, that’s what feminism is attempting to do. Not just reform the “equality” of men and women. But also to educate. We just need to keep trying. Anyway, I took to Facebook to voice my thoughts and I figured I’d share them here as well.

“There is a special place in hell for women who do not help other women.”
– Madeleine K. Albright.

I actually debated on whether or not I wanted to share this. Normally, when I read something that makes me this angry, I don’t share it because I try to keep this place as positive as I can. But this. THIS. I’m making an exception because this is important. These women think that they are above feminism. That they don’t need it because they aren’t victims. Because they don’t want to devalue men. GIRLS! YOU ARE DEVALUING YOURSELVES. How do you think the rights of women got as far as it has? Right now, you are using your voices, posting pictures of yourselves online, acting as strong women with opinions – BECAUSE OF FEMINISM. Because women continue to fight for our – FOR YOUR – rights. Feminism isn’t about playing the victim. It’s not about victimizing women AT ALL. It’s the damn opposite of that. And it’s certainly not about devaluing men – it’s about being treated as equals. It’s about getting paid as much, it’s about being able to have our say on an equal platform, it’s about owning our own bodies and being proud to have a voice. Which you have because of the feminists fighting for you.

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print by dothandmade

Your ignorance isn’t just shameful, it’s hurtful and detrimental to women everywhere. It’s a slap in the face to women in other countries who don’t have your rights – who are forced to succumb to the will of a man every day in more ways than one simply because they are seen as inferior. Those women are not allowed to speak up. You can and you do. You’re showing that right now. But your message is extremely misguided. Just because we are lucky enough to have been born into a country where women have as much power as we do, does not mean that our job is done. Women are still paid less than men in the work place simply because of our gender. The opinions of women in many male-dominated industries are not taken into consideration… simply because of what’s (not) between our legs. Even in our society, women are still not seen as equals by the government. But we could be. If we keep fighting. If we keep working for a better world. If we continue to educate others and welcome people – women and men and every variation – into the fold of feminism. Don’t shut it out. It’s why you’re able to do what you’re doing now.

This tumblr and these girls are doing far more damage to the cause than they realize. And their ignorance is so… heartbreaking. They have no idea. Their eyes are closed. And that is why feminism will continue to be needed for a long time.

Anyway. There’s my two cents. I’m going to go watch some kick-ass feminist Sailor Moon because I can.

Women in Tech: R. Williams.

Hey, something to blog about (thanks Amanda). It’s March 24th, Ada Lovelace Day! What does this mean? It means that today is a day to celebrate all women in technology!

Who was Ada?
Born Augusta Ada Byron, but now known simply as Ada Lovelace, she wrote the world’s first computer programmes for the Analytical Engine, a general-purpose machine that Charles Babbage had invented. she translated Luigi Menabrea’s memoir on Babbage’s Analytical Engine, appending notes that included a method for calculating Bernoulli numbers with the machine – the first computer programme. She also wrote the very first description of a computer and of software.

Roberta Williams: Graphic Adventure Queen

Some people, over the years, thought that I only achieved what I had achieved because of my husband, but, I always countered those people that the company was started because of a game that I wrote…not something my husband wrote. Therefore, it could be argued that he was there because of ME, not vice versa.

My Tech Heroine: Roberta Williams (quoted above)

Roberta WilliamsTo those of you who know Roberta Williams, it should be of no surprise to you that I chose her as my tech heroine. I am a gamer. I have loved playing computer games, and Roberta Williams was the only woman to be included in PC Gamer’s Game God Exclusive. She is the genius behind one of the first huge computer adventures games: King’s Quest. She also created the much lesser known Dark Crystal computer game (a game I always wanted). She and her husband were the original masterminds behind Sierra On-line, one of the first computer game companies, and her company was the first to include a female as a main character in a game (which not only did NOT ruin the game, but brought in even more gamers – girls!).

Known as “Queen of the Graphic Adventure,” Williams made a significant impact in the world of computer gaming. She laid down the foundations of generations of adventure games. In a world dominated by men, Williams became the first successful female game designer, paving the way for the many females who have followed her footsteps. Adventure Classic Gaming even called her “the single most successful adventure game designer ever lived.” Between 1984 and 1998, eight different games came out in the series King’s Quest.

If you’ve ever had the chance to play these games, you’ll understand right away why I say that Roberta Williams is a worldbuilder. I guess that’s one of the reasons why I love adventure games. Not only does the games have their own histories and worlds, but I also just love games that challenge my mind – I love having to think about things and figure out how to do something to get to the next step. I prefer it over the brute-strength and waging battles of other games (even though I love WoW). King’s Quest is a great game because you have to take things you find earlier in the game and use them to solve something later on. One of the reasons I’m such a hoarder in Warcraft is because in King’s Quest, every single item might have meaning later on in the game (even a rotten apple core!) and you shouldn’t throw away anything. You never know what might be useful.

Roberta Williams created a new way to play adventure games. You could say that she’s the reason we have such deep layers of history in even the most heavily played MMORPGs. When it comes to computers, gaming, and technology, Roberta Williams has cemented her place in history. She is the number one female gamer ever.

Who’s your female tech heroine?